Some of you may have started playing around with Adobe’s new creation, Character Animator. If not, I’d suggest you check it out – it makes character animation a breeze.
However, if you’ve tried creating your own characters, you have may run into problems getting them to animate how you’d want. Here are some handy tips on getting it right:
Dragging limbs skews the whole character
If you’ve got this problem, you’ve probably got the wrong ‘mesh shape’ for your character. You will almost always want a ‘contour’ mesh shape, but Character Animator (by default) tries to detect whether it should use a rectangular mesh for your character’s ‘rubber sheet’, or a mesh which hugs the contours of you character.
See the images below for how to fix this: Limbs do not move like they have a bone structure
If you’ve added ‘mousetrack/draggable left/right hand’ anchors, but the characters arms are more like that of an octopus than a human, then you need to add some elbow and shoulder anchors:
The feet move slightly when you tilt your head
Although the rest of the character may be set up correctly, you’ll probably want to ensure that your character’s feet stay firmly on the ground – at least while you are simply moving the head/arms. You can fix this easily from with Character Animator, by adding a couple of ‘fixed’ pins into each foot (and ideally ankle too):
Hopefully, that’ll help you solve some of the most common problems encountered in Character Animator. If there’s something specific you think I should tackle, let me know…
Just looking through some old work and found a banner I had created years ago. I know, I know, a banner – but, as banners go, it’s rather awesome 🙂
I created this for the BBC, to advertise a game related to one of their TV shows. It employs some pretty clever maths to animate some creepy vines which actually reach out to ‘grab’ your mouse cursor – have a play!
A very powerful feature in the Unity Editor is the Blend Tree. This is an extension to an Animation Controller, which allows you to blend the joint movements of multiple animations and control the ratio of blending one or more with parameters.
We decided to use filmed action of Beckham himself in-game, with the ‘video alpha channel’ support of Flash 8, which was very new at the time. I came up with the game concepts and shot list, then met with the film crew at ‘Off The Radar’ to organise the shoot with Beckham – we had less than an hour of his time to everything done, but he was a complete pro, completing most of the action in one take!
I went to Madrid for the green screen shoot with Beckham as visual effects supervisor and was responsible for treating and editing the footage for game production and related media.
I stitched some of the sequences together with morphs to create almost seamless blends between shots and added real-time lighting filters to the footage to help with the in-game compositing.
I coded a 3-D projection system in Flash and perspective-matched each scene, so that objects move around the screen convincingly. I worked with the designers at DDB, who created the backgrounds and UI elements. I included ‘Express Install’ capability for those users without Flash Player 8, so 95% users could upgrade painlessly from Flash Player 6 or 7. All the games are mouse-controlled and were user tested with children for usability and game balancing.
A high-score table and ‘challenge a friend’ feature was included – users with the highest scores were entered into a prize draw to win a training day at the academy with David Beckham. While modern video games only ever motion-capture players and recreate them as 3-D models, the DBA games site, while it’s dated a little over the years, still remains a one-of-a-kind that I’m rather proud of.
I thought I’d give a quick insight into how the animation effects in one of my projects were acheived.
Scott Bedford, former Creative Director at Carlson Marketing, posted this video of a project we worked on a while back, for the Lurpak Breakfast campaign. I created all the animation prototypes for the various effects used throughout the site, some of which can be seen here. The site won two DMA awards, but I’m most proud of the crumbs animation and the code-generated interactive steam effect – similar to the one you’ll see on my homepage.
I just finished a new project, called ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects‘, it’s a joint venture between BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum to chart human history in a new way. I developed the concept for the 3-D object explorer with the guys at GT/VML and built it using Flash 10’s native 3-D capabilities. Users are able to explorer objects from throughout human history in a potentially inifitely expanding 3-D time tunnel and even make history by uploading their own objects.
Here’s some footage of the 3-D explorer:
The main challenge facing the development of the 3-D explorer was to build something capable of handling up to 10,000 objects, loading in their images and displaying it all in glorious 3-D… all without crashing the user’s browser. Every object or filter set accessible within the explorer can be bookmarked, shared, or navigated with the browser back/forward buttons. For added accessibility, the explorer’s 3-D view itself can be navigated with the keyboard, mouse wheel or the on-screen controls.
I built the application strictly to optimise performance and memory management, while ensuring maximum stability. Coding techniques such as object pooling, typed arrays, load queueing, render deferral and the flyweight design pattern were used to maximise performance and minimise memory usage.